Different Paths, Same Destination: Reflections on 2016

Early December, just a few weeks ago, I was running late – leaving one meeting and headed to the next. I decided to take a shortcut down a trail headed in the direction I needed to go, knowing I was taking a chance as I had never been down this path before. About 10 minutes into the trail I found myself faced with a six-foot, chain link gate. It was secured closed by lock and chain. The fence was older and its wires were entwined on each other, creating pointy spikes along the top. I was on a strict time schedule and knew that turning back would delay my next appointment. In my haste, I saw only one choice. Crossing my fingers that no one would spot my ungraceful attempt, I started climbing and hurled myself over the gate. I nailed the landing but was left bruised and a bit scraped up. I stood looking at the gate from the other side, out of breath, trying to retie my now torn scarf and searching feverishly for a tissue to deal with the bleeding wound on my right hand.

As I turned to continue my way, there it was…. A narrow trail, just to the right of gate. Yup, it led right around the fence to the very place I was standing. I sighed. Then I giggled. I continued my walk pondering that experience and what it had to offer: Different paths, same destination.

This was a very fitting metaphor for my year. Thinking back, I realize that when you become a Council member, there really is no handbook. This learn as you go method caused me to climb a whole lot of fences in 2016, landing in a place where we needed to be as a community but left licking some wounds and feeling exhausted at times.  With a year of experience under my belt, a whole lot better understanding of City government, community connections, and constituent support, I can more clearly see potential paths around those fences, but even so, I’m grateful, for without the climbs, I wouldn’t have learned the lessons I did.

I’m looking forward to working with you all to promote and ensure equity across our City and its systems. Although there may be challenges ahead, and we’ll still need to climb a few fences, I’ll always be on the lookout for the path that will save us all a lot of energy and unnecessary struggle. With that, I’m feeling super excited and motivated to embark on 2017.

As always, I’d love to hear from you! What are you most excited about for our City in 2017? Keep in touch (abarker@cob.org or 360-325-5128).

Happy New Year!